In his first taste of Champions League football with Celtic last season, Liam Scales locked horns with some of European football's biggest names.

From Antoine Griezmann to Ciro Immobile and Alvaro Morata, the Irish centre-back tested his talents in Group E of UEFA's flagship competition during the 2023/24 campaign.

And while Brendan Rodgers' side ultimately finished at the foot of the table come December, Scales learned some invaluable lessons against the global elite.

Going up against one of the best, however, is a different proposition entirely.

Five-time Balon D'or winner and global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo needs little in the way of introductions – something the 25-year-old Celt learned the hard way when Ireland played Portugal in a pre-Euro 2024 friendly in June.

"That was a tough night against Portugal and Ronaldo," said Scales. "It was almost humbling playing against them.

"I went into the game thinking: 'I’ve got experience in the Champions League, I’ll be well able'. I felt like I could play against them. But the whole Portugal team were brilliant, not just Ronaldo."

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Scales described Ronaldo – who helped his country win the European Championships in 2016 – as "quality", proven by technical prowess and underpinned by an astute sense of game intelligence.

The Irishman added: "For the first [goal], I thought I had the shot blocked and it has gone a millimetre over my foot and right into the one place where he could score. It was so clinical, so sharp and it sort of shows the levels you need to get to.

"It was humbling in a really good way because it’s made me hungry to go improve and be more comfortable at that level, playing against guys like Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes. Their movement and quality on the ball were really good.

"I have played against good players and teams in the Champions League, but you just felt they were in sync. I was surprised they didn’t blow teams away at the Euros."